Bioethics Blogs

When Risk, Doubt, and Difference Converge: A Review Essay by Elizabeth Lewis

On Immunity: An Inoculation
By Eula Biss
Graywolf Press, 2014, 205 pp.

The End of Normal: Identity in a Biocultural Era
By Lennard J. Davis
University of Michigan Press, 2013, 155 pp.

Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks
By Jordynn Jack
University of Illinois Press, 2014, 306 pp.


Disability themes have become an increasingly central figure in the media, popular culture, and everyday life. Rates of disability diagnosis have risen sharply among children in the U.S. in the past decade. Disability has exploded in the popular press in such acclaimed recent books as Steve Silberman’s Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, Akhil Sharma’s Family Life, and Lisa Genova’s Still Alice. Similarly, scholarship on disability has gained new momentum. Somatosphere’s Inhabitable Worlds series, edited by Michele Friedner and Emily Cohen, featured cutting-edge writings on the study of disability within the social sciences, and the program for the 2015 American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting included over 50 papers, panels, and posters on disability themes. Without question, disability has emerged from the margins of scholarship and public interest.

Three recent books – Eula Biss’ On Immunity: An Inoculation, Lennard Davis’ The End of Normal: Identity in a Biocultural Era, and Jordynn Jack’s Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks – make important insights regarding the contours and textures of disability in the contemporary U.S. Biss, an essayist and social critic, offers a fascinating analysis of the persistent anxiety surrounding childhood vaccinations, particularly among a vocal minority of parents who oppose vaccines entirely.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.